Coo Coo for Coconuts

Columns Ono, You Know

February 22, 2015

Story By: Alana Folen |

My healthy obsession for coconut has reached its peak, Ono readers! Coconut milk, fresh coconut, coconut water, haupia — you name it, I love it. Found throughout the tropics and subtropics, coconut is renowned for its versatility, and it’s a lovely, healthy addition to your daily diet.

Coo coo for coconut, I sought out a couple of OYK establishments, which I knew would not disappoint. And I was right. Island Olive Oil Company and Max’s of Manila showcased coconut in ways I could only dream of.

Island Olive Oil Company

I believe it was Rachael Ray who made “EVOO” a nationally recognized acronym, which stands for “Extra Virgin Olive Oil.” Olive oil is pretty much the best thing since sliced bread, and it pairs great with said sliced bread, by the way. Here on Oahu, Island Olive Oil Company has the goods. Located in Ward Centre, Island Olive Oil Company is the one-stop shop for the widest selection of pure extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars on the island.

Smooth but zesty. Tranquility amid chaos. Cool, calm and collected, but a little bit off the wall. That’s how I like my life, and most importantly, my food. So, as I browsed through the impressive assortment of EVOO and vinegars, of course, Aged Coconut White Balsamic Vinegar immediately caught my eye. With its origins tracing back to Modena, Italy, Coconut White Balsamic Vinegar is sweet, pleasingly tart with the clean, natural flavor of coconut. According to the Solera Method, it is progressively aged in wood barrels to create a masterpiece that’s just perfect.

What to do with this bottle filled with “liquid gold”? Swing your head back and drink it straight up. But for the civilized, Aged Coconut White Balsamic Vinegar ($16.95, 200 ml; and other sizes) makes a fantastic dressing or marinade, and when paired with Island Olive Oil Company’s Lime Olive Oil or Sesame Oil, you will never be the same again.

Sales and brand manager Kevin Aboud recommends drizzling it over chicken, fish or shrimp salads for a sweet note of flavor.

“You normally wouldn’t think to pair coconut with balsamic vinegar, but it works. The coconut reduces the acidity of the vinegar,” he says.

Island Olive Oil Company
Ward Centre, 1200 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 412

Max’s of Manila

Max's Bicol Express ($13.95) Leah Friel photo

Max’s Bicol Express ($13.95) Leah Friel photo

Nuts for coconut, I made my way to Max’s of Manila for some Filipino home cooking, and, of course, coconut-inspired dishes were on the menu. My top pick? Bicol Express ($13.95), which features crispy fried pork belly doused with a sweet and spicy sauce. General manager for Max’s of Manila Hawaii Maly San Luis explains that Bicol is a region in the Philippines, which is known for its spicy fare paired with coconut cream. The taste is extraordinary, and the heat produced by a mix of fresh red and green chili peppers is subdued by the creaminess of the coconut. Shrimp paste is added to the sauce as a final touch, and what you’re left with is a dish that’s the pinnacle of divine. A side of rice also complements Bicol Express nicely.

For dessert, Buko Pandan is where it’s at for those who are crazy for coconut. This sweet succulence features strips of coconut (buko) and is served with a side of Macapuno (coconut) ice cream.

When the coconut craving hits, Max’s of Manila is all you need!

Max’s of Manila
801 Dillingham Blvd. #108

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